The fact that cancer is an extremely difficult disease for everybody involved is an understatement. And for many, one of the most painful parts of fighting the illness is not even the cancer itself—it’s the chemotherapy.

Along with the excruciating treatment are the side effects, such as hair loss, that can take both a physical and psychological toll on a person. But while hair grows back, some side effects—like infertility—usually never reverse.

This certainly seemed the case for the United Kingdom’s Sarah Pickles, who needed surgery and chemotherapy to remove seven tumors after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015. What happened the next year, though, was shocking.

In 2014, when Sarah Pickles of the United Kingdom discovered that she had breast cancer, she was determined to defeat it at all costs. Already a mother of one, she knew that this would probably mean she’d never be able to get pregnant again.

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“I knew from the day I was diagnosed that I had two options, either I was going to let the cancer control me or I was going to control it,” said Sarah in an interview. “For me dying was not an option, it was just not, I had to do everything I could to get me through it.”

In 2015, Sarah received a double mastectomy and chemotherapy to remove her seven tumors and to ensure that the chances of the cancer returning were slim. The bad news? She was told not to expect to ever be able to have children again.

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“Percentage-wise, we were told that the chances of us getting pregnant after chemotherapy was probably about 1 percent. Even when we went to the IVF clinic they said that it was about 1 percent that even IVF would work.”

A year later, Sarah started to feel back pain. She feared that the cancer may have returned, so she went to the hospital for a scan as soon as she could. The staff noticed a curious shadow on her spine—and made her take a pregnancy test.

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“Ten minutes later she came back in with a pregnancy test that I had done and I think she was a bit scared to tell me because of what I had said to her but she eventually said, ‘you’re pregnant.'”

“I didn’t know what to say. I had gone from having these tests and getting reassurance that everything was OK to this. My husband was half way up Everest base camp at the time, leading an expedition, when I told him. So he was there and I was here, four weeks pregnant with this miracle pregnancy. It was just meant to be,” Sarah said just a few weeks before her due date.

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“After what we’ve been through together, it’s just perfect.”

It’s amazing to consider the surprises that life can throw at you sometimes. Hopefully Sarah’s baby grows up to be safe, happy, and healthy!

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